We’ve followed the output of Bristol/London based record label ‘A Future Without’ with great enthusiasm over the past year and have particularly enjoyed their music samplers which they generously compile and release for free consumption. Creative freedom is the key to what makes ‘A Future Without’ such an interesting and fresh label – they allow their artists to do what they do with little intrusion and it really does show in the quality of music produced. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with co-founder Will Plowman by email to find out more about the label ethos and their impressive roster…
Cat On The Wall: You’ve got quite an impressive mission statement on your website but before we talk about that could you perhaps give us a bit of an insight into how and when the label came about and who is involved?
Will Plowman:A Future Without is run by myself Will Plowman and by Ross Tones aka Throwing Snow. I guess it all started about five or six years ago when me and Ross were working in a health food shop in Bristol, we chatted continuously about music playing new and old tunes while we made salads and sandwiches! Ross then went travelling and did an MA at Bath Spa where he had the idea of starting a record label, I quickly jumped on board and we went from there. Initially gathering tracks off friends and of our own as well as discovering a plethora of amazing untapped talent through sites like myspace.
COTW: “We put our artists first as nothing matters but the music” – whilst this is certainly a very honourable ethos how has this stance affected the business side of the label?
WP:We never really set out or set the label up for monetary reasons, but this doesn’t mean that we do not believe that having an honourable & ethical ethos cannot lead to profit. I think it just means you have to think outside the box. We have based A Future Without on a long-term business model to quote Marge Simpson ‘slow and steady wins the race’ meaning building a strong loyal fan base and community over time rather than siding with fleeting treads and then forgetting about the artist.
COTW: Has your idea of a “collective mentality” been successful so far and if so why do you think it is working? Should this be something that more independent labels look into?
WP:I think a collective mentality is always important it’s always a good thing to be open to other people’s ideas to progress and share. I think our approach to “collective mentality” is working very nicely. We encourage artists to communicate with each other and they do so of their own accord sometimes which is always really great to see. I think our openness to the “collective mentality” is very important giving the artists freedom to do what they want to do and for them to feel comfortable. This means we can both learn off each other as everyone has something different to bring to the table. The “collective mentality” is also something that spans outside our label and links with other labels and companies such as Last Dance London, Drawn Recordings, Disconnected, Sturban Clothing etc… Which is something that we feel is very important and we try to encourage all the time. This is one of the reasons nothing we do is exclusive and artists are always free to work with other labels and we encourage it. We would definitely recommend other labels to take a “collective mentality” approach there is a lot to gain from supporting and helping other labels, artist & companies that are in a similar situation as you. Were all coming from the same page so it makes sense to be mutually beneficial especially in this day and age.
I guess it’s just about creating a family of musicians and like-minded people that can communicate and collaborate. Which is always a good thing in our eyes.
COTW: Can you tell us about some of the artists on your roster? What releases can we look forward to?
WP:We have a rather large number of artists on the roster in one way or another about 50 or 60 at the last count. Some have been turning a few heads recently Kahn for example has just had his second release with Punch Drunk. We released his debut EP last year as well as his collaboration with Vessel called Baba Yaga both truly stunning EPs.
Also Memotone has been shaking things up recently after releasing his album with us last year he has gone on to release on Black Acre and Raised by Records he is also doing amazingly well. Achilles are also another one to look out for a very talented band kind of somewhere in between Jaga Jazzist & The Mars Volta. 52 commercial Road also ridiculously good, a post rock band from London, they are currently working on a remix EP that includes a Drumcorps (Aaron Spectre) remix. Lost Twins amazing experimental Hip Hop is defiantly not to be missed. If you like things a bit more folky Augustus Ghost, Jessie Moncrieff and Toyface are all so beautifully outstanding. I could go on all day but make sure you check Zhou (who are just about to release on Punch Drunk as well), The lasting Days, Petter Worland, Lego, Moabi, Pilote, Deef, Cheewybenson etc etc the list goes on full list on the website.
We have lots of very special releases coming up Vessel – Wax Dance is incredible and is out next week on Halloween as is Sam Kidel’s String Loops EP which will be available on a very limited run of tapes. Then at the end of November we have Dominic james Jaeckles Goodnight You Dogs EP which is a gritty acoustic EP along the lines of Cohen, Dylan and Jansch. Accompanying this will be another cracking single from achilles with a very special remix from Memotone. We will also be releasing an album from Lund Quartet, their beautifully evocative exploration of Jazz has experimental & Hip Hop undertones that are just stunning.
COTW: Are you taking submissions at the moment or do you go out in search of new artists to support? What do you look for in an artist?
WP:We are always looking for new artists and always willing to listen to new submissions. It’s hard to say what we look for in an artist but I think it’s mainly a passion for music, someone who really cares about the music they create. If we can see/hear some kind of spark and originality in them and their music we’ll go for anything, we never purposefully look for a certain genre. We both have a massive passion for new and exciting music and this is what drives us and the label.
COTW: Finally, what plans are on the horizon for ‘A Future Without’?
WP:Lots of plans on the horizon, loads of great releases as mentioned previously and more already starting to get lined up for next year. There is the Lund Quartet launch on the 2nd of Dec at The Cube in Bristol, which will be an amazing evening of live music. We are also planning on getting more physical releases out there not necessarily in the conventional ways but we can’t really say more than that at the moment. We’ve always got more ideas than time to do them really we’re constantly looking to the future and are fascinated by the ever-changing music industry.